Saturday, June 15, 2019

Race for the White House 2020 # 24

What's the best way to start this week's write-up?

I am kind of at a loss. Yesterday was John McCain Day of course, a great way to commemorate and trigger the current President.

Partisans on both sides continue to act outwardly in which the 2020 election is a done deal. Trump fans look to Job Approval numbers from Rasmussen Reports (the most accurate pollster in 2016, but after a change in ownership, the worst in 2018), showing the incumbent consistently right around 50 percent, which is more or less where Barack Obama was exactly four years ago.

Those who oppose Trump look at recently released national and state polls which show Trump significantly behind Joe Biden and other Democrats as well. The Trump campaign, after denying they had internal polls showing them trailing Biden was forced to admit that yes, back in March, those polls existed. Neither camp believes there might be any validity in the polls they do not like. Of course, the truth, as always, is likely down the middle on this.

As I have said for several elections now, every campaign has ups and downs. The first "big event" of the campaign will take place later this month in Miami where 20 Democrats will gather for the first of back to back debate nights. Not making the cut were afterthoughts Mike Gravel and Wayne Messam. Joining them in missing out were two relative late-comers to the race in Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton and Montana Governor Steve Bullock. A case can be made that leaving Bullock out is doing the party a disservice. He had to get through his state's legislative session before he announced his candidacy and thus got a late start in fundraising. He can also of course claim to be the only candidate in the field with statewide success in a state Trump won.

Late this week, the "lineup" was announced and many camps are complaining. It makes sense that everyone wants to be on stage and get their potshots in at Joe Biden, but only half the crowd will be able to. Biden is being put on the second night, likely in order to garner a larger viewing audience, and he will have to face Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and Pete Buttigieg, among others. Those others include first time candidates Andrew Yang and Marrianne Williamson whom theoretically might be standing right next to Biden.

The first night, besides including the tallest candidates in Bill deBlasio and John Hickenlooper, will be "highlighted" by the presence of Elizabeth Warren. The Massachusetts Senator, after a very rough beginning of the year politically, has steadily and doggedly moved up in the polls. In some states, she has even overtaken Bernie Sanders. It may not be long before those on the party's left come to the realization that Sanders and Warren are allowing Biden to be ahead at all by the fact that both are in the race. While Warren probably would have liked to be on stage with Biden, she will have the chance to potentially win more supporters is she can come away with what pundits or activists will say was a clear "victory" in the debate. As a matter of pure political theater, I will be looking forward to watching these. I will agree with virtually none of the policy proposals espoused, but hopefully Trump takes a rhetorical beating at least.

Each week, my incredulity continues to grow in not knowing what to say about Trump. This week, in an Oval Office interview with George Stephanapolous (of all people), Trump said that he would likely accept foreign "dirt" on an opponent in the election. This is clearly illegal. Trump supporters wondered what he was doing being asked "gotcha" questions by ABC News itself, but the political damage may have been done. A day or two later, Trump made comments in an attempt to walk back these remarks, contradicting himself, and saying that he likely would go to the FBI if approached after all.

I wish I had the energy to expand on all of this. I just know that had Barack Obama suggested he could do exactly what Trump said he could do, my fellow conservatives would have called for an arrest to be made in the White House on the spot. (And many on the left would have shrugged it off too.)

It feels like there is something I wanted to mention but am missing this week. I suppose it can wait until next Saturday, if I can think of it. Lately, I have been reviewing my blog archives, and it is amazing how much information I was able to include in my Presidential campaign write-ups. I am doing one month a day and am up now through July of 2012. (Thankfully, I have discovered I have been overwhelmingly critical of Donald Trump since 2011.) It is amazing how different the political landscape looked back then, but in some ways the dynamics of a campaign involving a crowded field of challengers against a polarizing incumbent are very much the same.

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Race for the White House 2020 # 23

As the summer of 2019 approaches, this might have been a consequential week in Campaign 2020. For one thing, we know that if the Republican nomination were not already a done deal for Donald Trump, it is closer to officially so now. While former Governor William Weld continues to press onward, current Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said last Saturday evening he will not oppose the incumbent in a primary. He had made some noise about doing so. Not long ago, former Ohio Governor John Kasich said basically the same thing. While I salute Weld for having some political cojones, for me, the most realistic option has always been try to find a mainstream center-right candidate (I would even settle for center-left at this point) to run in the general election. Despite much in the way of hinting at such by Kasich last year, he has gotten far quieter on this point. Also nearly absent from the public scene in recent months, post back surgery, is former Starbucks boss Howard Schultz.

So, if nothing changes, and not taking into consideration the participation of the traditional third parties such as the Libertarians and Greens, we are looking at a traditional D vs. R race. The D race will definitely be hotly contested. We are less than three weeks away from the first of the debates. It should be quite a spectacle. The DNC is already taking steps to try to limit the number of candidates who might qualify for future debates.

The front-runner is still perceived to be Joe Biden though, although his lead in primary polls has continued to shrink a bit while general election polls against Trump have been such to buoy the spirit of Democrats. I think this was a bad week for Biden though. The particular reason why has been a bit disappointing to me. While I know enough about Joe Biden to not ever be able to vote for him, I was open to at least somewhat "rooting" for him against Trump. I think that will be much harder to do although my Trump loathing remains as strong as ever. Biden has proved to have the spine of a jellyfish. For decades, while still being publicly pro-choice on the controversial issue of abortion, Biden has supported the Hyde Amendment, a 1970's piece of legislation that barred public federal funds from going to subsidize abortions.

This was once considered sacrosanct but the Democrats have moved so far to the left on the issue that Biden became the only one of the 24 major contenders to have this position. He was confused and surprised when first asked by a woman at a campaign event in which he seemed to indicate he opposed the Hyde Amendment. The campaign then released a statement trying to clear up the damage saying he still supported it. The left and other candidates pounced on Biden and provided pressure. Within 48 hours, the "flip flop flip was complete" as Biden said publicly he no longer supported the Hyde Amendment framing as an issue of "healthcare" for poor women. To me, it is morally unacceptable to expect people who honestly consider abortion akin to murder to have to pay for others to have the procedure. There would be a whole lot I would be willing to overlook in regards to a Democrat, even the general issue of abortion itself, but I cannot overlook this.

It is said that former child star and Twitter activist Alyssa Milano had directly contacted to Biden campaign to get the candidate to change his position on this issue. Sure enough, that is what happened. I guess Alyssa/Samantha is "the Boss" after all.

While changing his position on this issue might limit the damage immediately for Biden among Democrats, the message is now out that any amount of pressure can get him to change his mind. He has 45 years of a public record to answer for and left-wingers will be trying to get him to denounce and apologize for such much more, while adapting their positions. If he is ultimately successful in winning the nomination, there may not be much to differentiate Biden from Bernie Sanders after all. All of that will just make Biden look like a less appealing general election candidate. There will once again be a lot of voters who dislike Donald Trump, as was the case in 2016, but will hold their nose and vote for him, because of such fear of how far left the Democrats have gone. No, I will not be one of them. I will vote my conscience above all else.

This was a very weird week for Donald Trump as well, even as he got to meet the Royal Family in London, at least the ones that were willing to be photographed with him. He started a Twitter fight with actress Bette Midler and seemed to infer that the Moon was part of Mars. Before that, there was much discussion about if he called Megan Markle, the American born Duchess of Sussex, "nasty" or not. Audio evidence indicates he clearly did but I would be willing to give him a bit of a break on the context of how he said it.

Of course this week was also about commemorating the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. In ceremonies, by all accounts, Donald Trump read his teleprompter without a hitch and spoke very moving words written by others that honored those who paid the ultimate price and the ever dwindling band of heroes who still survive among us. That is great. When the teleprompter is off though, Trump cannot help himself and with the crosses and Stars of David in the background, he used the occasion of a Fox News interview to attack Speaker Nancy Pelosi as well as Robert Mueller, a decorated and honored Vietnam War veteran.

Pelosi did happen to say this past week, behind closed doors, but in remarks she clearly wanted to go public, that she does not want to see Trump impeached, but imprisoned. (If the latter is worthy, surely the first should be automatic.) Trump acolytes reacted in shock and spoke of a "Banana Republic" as if they do not remember that Trump led large crowds in chants of "Lock Her Up" in regards to his 2016 opponent on nearly a daily basis. Of course the hypocrisy extends both ways, but what else is new?

On the policy front, the week involved Trump making threats to Mexico about tarrifs only to call them off at the 11th hour indicating a "great deal" on immigration had been cut. For the sake of the country, I hope that is true, but I doubt it. Who caved? Mexico or Trump? I think evidence points to Trump. For one thing, this is a rare issue where it looks like many Congressional Republicans were willing (on solid ground) to actually oppose him on something. The Trump die-hards, in and out of elective office remain with him when he is stubborn and with him when he caves and always deny either is ever a problematic trait.

So, everything this week showed serious political and personal vulnerability among the front-runners of both major parties. Many in both parties are hoping there will a different option than Trump vs. Biden. Democrats can at least make that possible. Republicans like me are in a more hopeless situation. As the saying goes, the chips will fall as they may. At least the eventual loser of Campaign 2020 will deserve to lose.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

Race for the White House 2020 # 22

One never quite can anticipate what the national headlines will be on a daily basis.

Some people, including those in the White House, were taken aback this week when Donald Trump announced that he will be slapping steep tariffs on Mexico this upcoming month. He and his aide Stephen Miller were said to be very annoyed by images of illegal immigrants crossing the U.S. border and he is insisting that Mexico do more to fix this problem. The impact this could have on the American economy and the prices consumers here will pay could be pretty bad though and there could be a political price to pay for that. Trump apologists though somehow conflate the facts of this entire matter and come away with, "Mexico is paying for the wall after all."

There was also a dustup over the shameful story of someone associated with the White House wanting to hide the USS John S. McCain from Trump's sensitive eyes during his recent trip to Japan for fear that it would set the snowflake President off. Trump has denied any knowledge of this but declared that whomever did this was "well-meaning" and then of course launched more attacks at the deceased Senator and war hero.

The biggest news of the week occurred though when with little notice it was announced that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller would offer a statement before cameras at the Justice Department. While Mueller did not take questions and expressed a desire to let the lengthy report and this statement speak for itself, even as others want him to testify before Congress, what he said was quite significant.

Mueller announced that his role was officially over but on his way out wanted to express the seriousness that America faced with Russian interference in the 2016 election. He said that there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone associated with Trump with a "greater conspiracy" but on the matter of obstruction of justice, he went out of his way to say that he could not exonerate Trump and if he could have, he would. Mueller pressed heavily on his understanding of a Justice Department law that prohibits bringing criminal federal charges against a sitting President, and for that reason, he felt it inappropriate to make a formal conclusion on obstruction. Reading between the lines though, Mueller clearly seemed to be saying that Trump would have been indicted had he not been the President and he seemed to almost be imploring Congress to be the ones to remedy the situation, as the Congress demands, which of course involves impeachment. In this statement, Mueller went even further than what was contained in the report and of course was vastly at odds with the sunny summary offered by Attorney General William Barr before the report was released.

In reading the transcript of Mueller's remarks, I seemed to understand what he was saying and appreciate the fact that he is an institutionalist who wanted to do things "by the book." He was not required to go in front of tv cameras though and thus delivered a political blow to Trump. Still, both sides were a bit miffed with Mueller. The Trump fans were mad for fairly obvious reasons why many on the left are angry he could not bring himself to directly say Trump committed a crime. The current President himself again declared "case closed", though he no longer claimed to be "totally exonerated" and of course attacked Mueller publicly using goofy conspiracy theories and debunked claims such as Mueller had wanted Trump to make him FBI Director again.

Speaking personally, Mueller's statement sort of changed things for me. While I concede that the likelihood of Trump being removed from office by the Senate via an impeachment conviction is virtually nill, I no longer care. I think Mueller knows what he is talking about and that Trump deserves, at the minimum, to go down in history as one of our few impeached Presidents. I felt the same way many years ago now about Bill Clinton and still do, even though he was never going to be convicted either.

Before this week, I was of the mindset that while Trump almost certainly deserved to be impeached, moving forward with out a mandate of such by the American people in what would be an ultimately futile effort would be a waste of time. I believed and perhaps still do, that impeachment is what Trump really wants and would rally his base to his political benefit. However, now, I think it is what the concepts of justice and the rule of law demand. Let the chips fall where they may.

Democrat grassroots activists agree with me and really want to see their party impeach Trump. The pressure is mounting on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to move forward, but thus far, she is using her considerable organizational influence within Congress to hold the line. Will the dam eventually burst though? I find it hard to see how it will not, especially with the pack of Democrats running for President increasingly joining the pro-impeachment chorus.

Thus, I now think it is likely that there will be impeachment proceedings this year. They will end, probably in a predictable sense, and there will still be many months for an eventual Democrat nominee to make the case for his or herself and against Trump. People tend to already be on their tribal corners over the Russia matter. Undecided voters will decide based on the issues they personally care about.

Of course, while I do not want to see Trump reelected, I also am the first to concede I am far from a Democrat and do not have any loyalty to their political concerns. I understand them, but my top consideration is the country itself. Democrats should not be afraid to stand on principle, but many are scared to do so. This does not speak highly of them and indicates that the party has moved so far to the left ideologically in recent years that they recognize their weaknesses and are fearful of doing anything that might accelerate a loss to Trump.

What I would say to Democrats and all Americans is yes, there is a political danger in taking on such an effort. I would think that it could prove not to be a fatal danger electorally but yes , that danger exists. With that in mind, I choose to quote Alexander Hamilton, who said, "the nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master and deserves one."
The nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master and deserves one.
Read more at:
The nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master and deserves one.
Read more at:
The nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master and deserves one.
Read more at:

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Race for the White House 2020 # 21

Nobody would be caught these days saying our politics are high-minded or mature.

Most the talk on cable news this weekend will be about the war of words between Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi. By attacking each other, in very personal terms, both appeal to the bases of their parties, and neither can afford to lose their base.

The self proclaimed "very stable genius" in the White House took umbrage over Speaker Pelosi's claim this week that he was engaged in a "cover-up" over the Mueller Report (and not just on his head.) Trump then used that opportunity to berate Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer and a scheduled White House meeting and stormed out of the room. He said he would not work with the Democrats on anything unless they stopped all their investigations. The Democrats of course are intent on continuing to investigate anything that is possibly Trump-related, while Trump has ordered his Attorney General to investigate the investigators that originally started investigating him in the first place.

The principles would then publicly disagree about Trump's temperament during the encounter. The executive claimed he was quite calm and ordered his staff at a press conference to testify as such. Pelosi said somewhat sarcastically that she would "pray" for Trump and mused that his staff or family should stage an intervention and that maybe Trump wanted to take a leave of absence as President since he no longer wanted to work with them on infrastructure. Trump claimed that he has been "watching Nancy very closely" and suggested she was dealing with health issues herself. He retweeted a doctored video of her speaking in a slowed down manner made to make her sound drunk. I have heard radio hosts play similar slowed-down clips of Trump for laughs.

So, what to make of all this? For one thing, Pelosi clearly got under Trump's skin and of course he is never able to let anything go. None of this makes either look very good in the eyes of the average American, but the left-wing base of Pelosi's party has been pushing harder and harder for the House to open an official impeachment proceeding against Trump in the wake of the White House deciding to not let former White House Counsel Don McGahn testify before Congress. By being seen publicly as "feuding" with Trump, Pelosi may have at least bought herself some time with the pro-impeachment elements in her conference and party.

Everyone agrees that Trump would survive an impeachment process in the GOP controlled U.S. Senate, but many Democrats still want the House to go forward. Trump seems to want it too for political reasons (even as he has falsely suggested in the past that he could get the Supreme Court to stop it early.)

If the House does impeach Trump and if he remains in office, his path to reelection would go easier.  That is one thing that both he and Pelosi agree on these days, and why the Speaker has a very difficult job.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

American Idol Season Finale

Well, this write-up will wrap up my coverage of this season of American Idol. The ABC versions sure seem to fly by. This is close to the time of year when Idol would usually end, but the seasons sure felt longer and with more merit to the eventual winner. Perhaps, ABC could cut down on the time they take to air auditions and "celebrity duets" etc, and just focus on the contestants competing.

In many ways, this finale was unlike any other. It took place over three hours on Sunday night. I only go to watch about half of it that night and did not finish the entire episode until Tuesday. I did manage to make it until 5 pm on Monday before I could not avoid finding out accidentally online whom the eventual winner was. Now, it is Thursday night and I will try to offer my thoughts both on the episode and on the overall results of the season.

For the first time ever, voters had to choose the winner only during the time the episode aired. The third place contender was cut half-way through, but the voting remained open for the Top 2 for another 90 minutes or so. Nonetheless, this was all interspersed with group numbers and celebrity performances and one, but not the other, Finalist having a celebrity duet. So, judging everything was a bit of a challenge.

Last year, the Final Three performed for the vote on Sunday night and I found most performances a bit boring. This year, everything occurred just on Sunday night. I did not find it boring so much (although I certainly did not know the majority of these songs) but that all three who took the stage looked and sounded a bit nervous and were not as good vocally as they could have been. Still, this was a strong season with talented vocalists. At least one of the Final Three was very deserving of her spot. In terms of pure vocals alone, perhaps it would have been most meritorious had she been joined by Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon and Dimitrius Graham.

The night began with Lionel Richie taking the stage to lead the audience in "Dancing On The Ceiling" and he was joined by all of the Top 10. However, since nobody had a solo, I thankfully did not have to rank it.

Round 1- Contestant's Choice

Laine Hardy- "Home"

From what I recall, he looked and sounded sort of nervous, his hair was higher than it usually is, but it was still a decent performance. This kind of country-blues is the type of music that best suits his voice. A few nights later and without re-watching, I cannot remember what else I might have wanted to say.

Madison VanDenburg- "Shallow"

It was probably a good idea for Madison to not attempt to do one of the famous Whitney ballads and instead did this recent number one hit, where she sang both Lady Gaga's and Bradley Cooper's parts. She always sounds good but again I could detect nerves.

Alejandro Aranda-  "Millennium Love"

Another original for AA. He always seems a bit nervous on the show. As is typically the case with his performances, I found the melody and his voice pleasing for the first few seconds and then I quickly become bored.

Ranking: Madison over Laine over Alejandro

No big surprise, as that is pretty much my preference going into the evening.

Round 2- Hometown Dedications

Here, for the first time ever, Finale voting would be occurring while the Homecoming video packages are shown.

 Laine Hardy- "Jambalaya (On The Bayou)"

This song was fitting for where Laine is from and he certainly has done a lot of oldies during this contest. I do not know this Hank Williams song and while Laine performed strongly on stage as typical, I found the song kind of dumb.

A lot of the dialogue in Laine's visit home seemed kind of scripted, especially when he broke down in tears and was comforted by his niece. Maybe I am just cynical. I have to say though that I thought Laine had a lot of potential on this show from his audition last year. The judges did not advance him to the live rounds, and maybe that was a good thing for him, as he was able to get the redemption and growth storylines this year. I wonder if he truly was not intending to audition though when he came to simply play guitar for his friend in her audition or if that whole thing was also just made for tv.

I remember now that he was greeted by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, a Democrat who is up for reelection this year in a very red state, and who is trying to move to the right on cultural issues in order to try to survive. I will talk more about his race later this year, but would rank him ahead of Andrew Cuomo and Gavin Newsom for sure. (They would not be present to greet their state's contenders.)

Madison VanDenburg- "Breakaway"

Wow. She really went there. I have commented all season how Madison sounds (and even talks) much like Kelly Clarkson. Last week, she did one of Kelly's more remembered covers from Season 1 and in this round, she took on perhaps Kelly's most well-known and emotional ballad.

I really wanted Madison to do well on this and she never sings terribly, but as the song says, "something felt so wrong here." Vocally, she seemed a bit off her game and right after her homecoming video, which was surprisingly not really all that emotional, but more triumphant in theme, Madison seemed to be a in a good mood. It's great when she smiles, but this song does not call for that. She was not able to convey the message of the lyrics which are pretty deep and even desperate. Maybe Madison's home life growing up in Upstate New York (it seems like she comes from a pretty red area in a blue state) was happier than whatever inspiration from growing up that Kelly used to sing it as a hit single.

Alejandro Aranda- "Tonight"

Another original song from "Homie" and I cannot remember anything about it other than thinking it was probably his best written and best sung original song.

To go "home", Alejandro took a commuter train (I guess they really have those in Southern California) to Pomona. The only relatives we saw were his niece and nephew who appear to be slightly older than him. Ben Harper, the local musician that Alejandro sang a duet with early in the season, was presented as a father figure. He definitely comes from a "blue area" of a blue state but the heavily Latino population seemed very proud of him and his success. I do not think at any point in the season was AA's Latino ethnicity really stressed at all by the show. Throughout the history of Idol, Latino singers have come close, many have come second, third, or fourth, (as one time commenter Conservative Democrat would remind us) but never won. That is unless you recognize country crooner Scotty McCreery as being a "quarter Puerto Rican.") In the eyes of many. Alejandro was poised to break this barrier.

There was one part of this video package that I found legitimately moving and not really fake at all. Alejandro was greeted by a children's choir singing one of his original songs back to him and he was fighting hard to hold back tears. He then thanked their parents and encouraged them to continue to support their kids' creative endeavors. Something felt unsaid there about his life perhaps.

Round Two Ranking: Madison over Alejandro over Laine

In retrospect, I might have been a bit kind to Madison because I know and like the song. I had to narrowly believe that Alejandro outsang Laine here though. With an elimination about to happen though, I decided to give the tie-breaker edge to Laine over Alejandro.

Last week, in some detail, I offered scenarios about how each of the three might win the vote. There were a lot of things that could happen here (and at about this portion of the evening on Sunday, I saw the name Laine trending on Twitter, leading me to wonder if he was the one cut first.)

My hunch on who would lose out here would be correct though unfortunately.

Who should have finished in third: Alejandro Aranda
Who I predicted would finish in third: Madison VanDenburg
Who finished in third: Madison VanDenburg

She seemed gracious but clearly down in the moment. I wonder if she knew beforehand though, because of the three, she was the only one who would take part in group numbers with the other defeated Finalists and had a duet with some country band (I think) as well.  Good luck to Madison. Out of these three, she has the best voice, perhaps because she has co-opted Kelly Clarkson's voice. It's easier to be a male on Idol though, at least in seasons where the last males standing have large fan-bases.

Weird Quasi Round:

Alejandro Aranda- "Ten Years"

Guess what? Another original song. Was there a piano for this or a guitar? I forget. There was an orchestra though on stage I think.  He's talented and I find these songs boring. Once again.

Laine Hardy- "Dirt On My Boots/Night Shift"

Here, Laine took the stage with a country singer I had never heard of with the last name Pardi. This was literally Pardi with a Hardy! That had to be the only reason because I thought the Pardi guy sounded like crap. At least Laine sounded better on this country tune. I was wondering if Alejandro would get a celebrity duet performance as well. He would not.

Ranking: Laine over Alejandro

Round 3 (or is it 4?)- Another contestant choice? Usually judges pick a song for the Finalists but thta was not mentioned here.

Laine Hardy- "Bring It On Home To Me"

Here, Laine reprised a song he did back in Top 20 week, which was like all of six weeks ago. When he sang it then, I pegged him as a potential winner when the dust settled, so I have not been surprised to see him get this far. It was another solid, if not overwhelmingly great vocal. Throughout the entire season, Laine's voice was usually on point, but he scored the most points for himself because of looking good on camera (he was shrewd enough to get veneers after being cut last year) and being captivating entertainer. He never was able to present himself as an "artist" which may mean he is necessarily mean he is destined for strong showings on the charts after the show.

Alejandro Aranda- "Out Loud"

In contrast, Alejandro does not look that great on camera, is not really much of an "entertainer" and for many his voice is an acquired taste. However, he has been shown as an "artist" from the first moment he appeared on screen. In that audition, he sang the original song he would reprise here. For me, the most memorable part of the song is the somewhat weird way he plays guitar. I recognized he had a lot of musical talent but did not understand the tongue bath he was given by the judges at the time and did not agree with it when they dialed it up even another notch after this. For one thing, Alejandro seemed glad to just be at the finish line and was seemingly not even that focused on how he was singing.

Ranking: Laine over Alejandro

So, here we were. If one were listening to the studio audience or the judges, it seemed like there was no way Alejandro could lose. While I thought it was very possible, per the reasons I discussed last week, I was still thinking Laine was probably a slight favorite for the "upset." Perhaps if it were a three-way vote the entire night, the "red state" vote would have continued to split two ways leading Alejandro to sneak in. However, when Madison got cut, her fans that wanted to keep voting probably gravitated towards Laine, the youngest male in the Finals this season.

Who should have won American Idol: Laine Hardy
Who I predicted would win American Idol (long before I saw the result online): Laine Hardy
Who won American Idol: Laine Hardy

Congratulations to both Alejandro and Laine I hope Alejandro sells a lot of records one day and I hope Laine has the freedom to do the kind of music he wants to do. I still think he has more to him vocally than the good times party oldies he often presented in satin jackets or whatever they were. I thought he stood a very good chance of winning from the moment he reluctantly accepted a golden ticket this year that he said he had not planned on wanting.  Both Laine and Alejandro were perhaps too reliant on playing guitar on stage instead of just singing, but they are clearly talented guitar players. Alejandro also played the keys. I send that Alejandro could probably learn to play the viola fairly quickly as well, if he does not already know how to play.

It is interesting to note that Laine is the first ever winner of Asian-American background. While many people might not have known that about Laine just by looking at him (his black hair aside), clearly his mother is of Asian heritage. That was never mentioned on the show though, anymore than the lack of directly acknowledging Alejandro's Latinoness.

When it all came down to it though, I believe older, more conservative voters, outvoted younger, more liberal voters. The Bayou beat the Barrio. That is not at all surprising when it comes to American Idol. We should of course be proud of and recognize the talent and diversity that exists in every corner of this country. There are "American Idols" all over the place in this land, despite the current leadership we are burdened with in both branches of our federal government.

After the results were announced, a lot of viewers may have been surprised but neither Laine or Alejandro, sweating under the hot lights, seemed very surprised at all. They shared an awkward hug and then it was time for Laine to sing his debut single. Mr. Hardy had about the most chill reaction to wining Idol that I have ever seen. His song was called "Flame" but it is not as good as the Cheap Trick classic of a similar name. If Laine shed a tear at all it was not until the confetti began to fall.

Next year, American Idol will be back on ABC, with or without the high-priced three judges of the last two seasons. I would be ready for new judges and there are a whole lot of things as a longtime fan I could change about this show to bring it back to past glory. Somehow, I do not expect to receive a call offering me the post of Executive Producer, so I will just be watching and blogging about it next winter once again.

Monday, May 20, 2019

U.S. House Special Election

Tomorrow, a special general election will be held to fill a vacancy. I will hold off on offering predictions for two other districts in North Carolina until just before they vote in September, as those races are more fluid.

Off topic, I am also holding off on my American Idol Season Finale post because I only was able to see half of last night's episode thus far. I will try to have that blog up tomorrow or something this week.


12.  vacant upon the resignation of Tom Marino (R)
won by Trump with 66% of the vote

Likely R

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Race for the White House 2020 # 20

Today, the Preakness Stakes saw a horse eject a jockey right out of the starting gate and proceed to run the entire course all by himself. In fact, Bodexpress apparently even finished ahead of a couple other horses in the race. Somehow there is a metaphor there for the large field of Presidential candidates all running for the finish line or perhaps one for an Independent bucking the system and trying to go all the way in November.

The Democrat field is now officially at 24 "major" candidates, not counting a former Delaware State Senator or a gadfly ex St. Louis School Board member who are technically seeking the White House as well. The most recent entrant to gain any press though was New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio who was roundly greeted with laughter among political watchers and protests at home in his liberal city. Everyone figures they have nothing to lose at this point, in spite of polls continuing to show that Joe Biden is now a clear frontrunner. The debates are yet to come though of course. Apparently, Democrats will hold them on back to back nights with roughly 12 candidates each night. How will it be determined whom gets on stage with whom though?

Today, the former Vice President had a bit of an official campaign kickoff with an outdoor rally in Philadelphia, where the Biden campaign will be headquartered. The visuals looked good on television, but clearly it was a somewhat smaller crowd than those that have greeted past Presidential candidates. Supporters of Donald Trump are of course big on "crowd size" and while Trump is probably only going to do indoor rallies, he never fails to be able to draw a crowd.

In regards to Biden, it is worth mentioning that he has explicitly ruled out the possibility that he will only seek to serve one term. For someone who would take office at age 78, which would shatter the record for the oldest elected President, I think it might have been a good idea for Biden to pledge to only seek one term right off the bat and focus merely on unifying the country during a four year period and not worrying about seeking reelection. Clearly though, Biden wants to keep his options open in regards to seeking reelection in his 80s. Bernie Sanders, who is a year older than Biden has not made any similar pledge either.

This was a bit of a tumultuous week in the stock market and Donald Trump's approval numbers may have taken a slight hit in the polls on the heels of economic anxiety related to the markets and his insistence on a trade war with China. Many are asking if Trump is being completely dishonest or even understands just how exactly tariffs work and how American consumers will pay the price. What will get less attention though is the fact that the moderate GOP Governor of Vermont has said he will not support Trump for renomination and still hopes for a current Governor to challenge Trump, in addition to ex-Governor Bill Weld. Also, Michigan Republican Congressman Justin Amash, long an iconoclastic Trump opponent, has become the first GOP Member of Congress to openly state that Trump should be impeached post Mueller Report. Amash is seen as a potential Libertarian Party candidate for President and could be a factor in his own state, at least. If that were to occur, I would have to seriously examine whether or not I might be able to vote for Amash. I like that he takes on Trump but I have serious disagreements with him on foreign policy and have wanted to see Amash unseated in Republican Congressional primaries. (The godfather of Amash's libertarian views is former Texas Congressman Ron Paul who ran for President through the years both as a Libertarian and Republican, but who this cycle has apparently endorsed Hawai'i Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, one of the couple dozen Democrats running.)

Clearly, there will be much jockeying for position among Democrats as the summer unfolds. Party activists though are asking themselves what it might take to get some of the Democrats to run for other offices in 2020, such as perhaps Pete Buttigieg for Governor of Indiana. Most significantly, this is having an impact on Republicans feeling better about keeping their Senate majority next year. After all, John Hickenlooper of Colorado, Steve Bullock of Montana, and Beto O'Rourke and Julian Castro, both of Texas, are running for President, not the Senate. To that list, you can include Stacey Abrams of Georgia, who has now said she will not run for the U.S. Senate, but still has not ruled out the possibility that she may become number 25.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

American Idol Top 3

For this Mothers' Day episode, I spent some time with the family watching the show live. During the commercials, we watched the first place Chicago Cubs extend their division lead and I tried to keep up with Game 7 of the Eastern Conference NBA playoff game, although I missed the buzzer beating shot. For Philly fans, Kahwi Leonard must feel like the new Joe Carter after this visit to Toronto.  Now, I am back home and will attempt to recreate my thoughts about the episode and the Idol landscape moving forward into next week's finale. At least I will not be running into any spoilers this week.

This week, the Final Five sang three songs each, although the performances felt truncated in the first round. To start things off, Idol mentor Bobby Bones made the choices.

1.  Wade Cota- "You Are The Best Thing"

After having said he was initially reluctant to sing another Ray Lamontagne song, Wade came away feeling good about this choice. I think he had a pretty strong performance. There may not have been any "wow" moments, but it suited his voice nicely and you can never saw that Wade is not committed to his performances on stage.

2. Laci Kay Booth- "The House That Built Me"

She is a very likable person but I cannot help but thinking that her voice is not American Idol worthy. This country ballad was something considered in her wheelhouse, but to me it was a bit boring and her vocal defects were on display. Laci was lucky to be saved last week over Jeremiah. The Idol Powers That Be were either thinking she was more marketable than JLH or they wanted to not just have one female and four males. My mother was very disappointed that Jeremiah was cut and this week would wind up agreeing with me again on most of these performances.

3. Alejandro Aranda- "No Woman No Cry"

Nonetheless, my mother just does not understand Alejandro at all and is not approving of him still being around. Of course, I am somewhat of that same mindset, but being a bit younger at least can see another perspective. I actually think this may have been AA's best vocal. This Bob Marley reggae tune seemed to fit his voice and at least he actually sang it regularly instead of in all falsetto.

4. Laine Hardy- "Can't You See"

On this Mother's Day, my mother made it very clear that she thinks Laine is "cute" and that she would like to "adopt" him.  I did not want to tell her that the combination of those two things would probably raise a red flag to adoption authorities, but I guess she can read that here.

I have been hoping Laine would do something a little less "partyish" or straight out of the oldies book and instead do something with more emotional substance to it. This was a bit more in that direction, although the song was still midtempo and he still played the electric guitar. Somehow though, there was no jacket. Vocally, Laine sounded pretty good as usual. In some ways, his voice is like Wade's, but being nearly a decade younger, not as pained sounding.

5. Madison VanDenburg- "What About Us"

Pink (or is it P!nk now?) is a good choice for Madison, although I think there are better Pink songs to sing. I was thinking Alyssa did this song this season already, but it looks like that was back in Hollywood. While perhaps not a perfect vocal, Madison still proved her talent is undeniable and more than did justice to this cover.


5. Laci Kay Booth
4. Alejandro Aranda
3. Wade Cota
2.  Laine Hardy
1. Madison VanDenBurg

Next, it was time for songs from the Elton John (and Bernie Taupin) songbook. I was sincerely hoping that Laine would not choose to sing "Crocodile Rock."

1. Wade Cota- "Rocket Man (I Think It's Going to Be a Long, Long Time)"

I had no idea this song required the official extra-lengthy title. What is the point of that?  Wade missed out on appealing to many in the pro-Trump Idol viewing audience by not dedicating this performance to Kim Jung Un.

Vocally, I thought Wade was once again pretty solid, but I thought it was a bit dumb in an Eddie Island sort of way to have Elton John glasses on for parts of the performance. It was feeling like a strong night for Wade, perhaps due to increased confidence or a planned strategy of holding less back towards the end.

2. Laci Kay Booth- "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting"

Credit has to go to Laci for attempting something different and bold for her. She has shown a willingness to do this on occasion. I suppose covering "The Bitch is Back" might have been a step to far though.

This performance was definitely not boring, and country elements were added to the arrangement, but the vocals were lacking. She tried to show versatility, which is a good thing, but this is not a style of singing she can readily pull off.

3. Alejandro Aranda- "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word"

It definitely is for some politicians. This was perhaps the best possible Elton John choice for Alejandro though. I believe he played piano, a la Sir Elton, and managed to sound pretty good. It could be that he is also increasing in confidence the longer the competition goes on.

4. Madison VanDenburg- "Your Song"

For one thing, I do not believe I have ever heard a female sing this particular song, so it seemed a bit different to hear it sang as high as it was. I really liked what Madison did with it though. I seem to recall some vocal gymnastics at the end, which probably was suited. There's not really much else I can say, except she continues to be amazingly consistent. I still wonder what Kelly Clarkson thinks of Madison.

5. Laine Hardy- "Something About The Way You Look Tonight"

No guitar here if I recall correctly. That is a good move. Laine was dressed like Elvis Presley meets a wrapped baked potato. Vocally, it was good, although I did detect that he might have been a bit tentative. Clearly, this was nothing to cause Laine to lose any fans, but I think he might have had more of a "moment" if he sang, "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues."

Rankings- second round, same as the first:

5. Laci Kay Booth
4. Alejandro Aranda
3. Wade Cota
2. Laine Hardy
1. Madison VanDenburg

Last season, at this point in the competition, also on Mothers' Day, all the remaining five dedicated songs to their Moms and we saw video packages of them sitting with their maternal units tearfully reading emotional letters. This year, was a bit different, in which they could dedicate a song to anyone. We have "met" all their mothers already, except for Alejandro. His parents have never been mentioned in any way and the only relative we have seen is his heavily tattooed nephew. I think Alejandro is the reason they broadened the scope of the dedication thing.

1. Wade Cota- "Hard Luck Woman"

Wade went first all three rounds and Laci will have gone second all three round. Ok, then why did the other three kids have their order changed up for all three rounds?

Early on in the auditions, we learned about the story of Wade and his family being physically abused by his father and then having to escape him. What was not mentioned is that he has a step-father who is very close with and whom he considers his real father. It was a pretty emotional package showing Wade with his mother and step-father, whom we also learned a few weeks back was having serious health problems.

I had no idea this particular Kiss song ever existed. When they said he would be covering Kiss, I wondered for a second if he would attempt "Forever" which would have been incredibly interesting. For some reason though this worked. To me, this was easily Wade's best night, although he was clearly at risk of being eliminated.

2. Laci Kay Booth- "Dreams"

Her dedication was to her grandmother, who might be nearly as close in age to me as I am to Laci. This was probably the best possible kind of song for Laci. She can at least be credible in pulling off the Stevie Nicks sort of thing (although Stevie is already on record endorsing Alejandro and believing he will change the world.)

Based on her past performances, I liked what Laci did here. It does not change the fact that her voice is her voice.

3. Madison VanDenburg- "Make You Feel My Love"

I do not associate this song with Bob Dylan. It was interesting seeing Madison talk about her relationship with her mother. It seems like there might be a bit of a backstory there and that her mother Denine might have lived an interesting life. Her mom looks like she is totally out of the 1980's, with huge blonde hair. If Madison is trying to sound like Kelly Clarkson, it seems like her mother is trying to look like Lita Ford. I wonder if she ever wanted to be a singer herself.

While my mother, who also ranked Madison as the best of the evening said there were some "pitchy" notes, I once again felt that the young performer accomplished her goal once again. I always find her very impressive vocally and do not think she has made any sort of major misstep in this competition whatsoever.  I was wondering though if Madison might actually be at risk of being eliminated tonight because of emotional moments already had by Wade and Laci.

4. Laine Hardy- "Hey Jude"

When they said he would be doing a "Beatles anthem", I knew it would be this song. He dedicated this song to his older brother (and I cannot help but wonder if they come from the same mother).

It is tough to abbreviate "Hey Jude" into 90 seconds, as we have seen in past Idol seasons. The performances are still usually highly praised though and this would be no different. Wade showed off his strong vocal skills and then his performance talent in getting the audience involved as well. He is definitely playing a strong Idol game, but if he was going to do the Beatles and wanted even more focus on his voice, he maybe should have tried "Let It Be."

5. Alejandro Aranda- "Blesser"

A third original for Alejandro.  He is probably going to have a least one more next week. He is steadily rising in the "original performer" database on the "What Not To Sing" website.

Here, we saw Alejandro talking to a musical mentor named Twin Shadows or something whom he apparently only met a couple years ago. I do not know what the situation with his parents might be or if he was told to not have his family around the cameras, because they do not speak English or something like that. Will some assume they are illegal? I get the impression that Alejandro has lived in the U.S. for many years, if he was not born here, and I have no idea actually where he was born.  As mentioned, the blue states seem all in on Alejandro while I detect a lot of dislike among older viewers in the "heartland"

He sounded vocally competent enough on this song I suppose, although I thought it was weird that it seemed to have a classical piano theme of sorts to it. Like his other originals, after a few seconds, I wound up finding it a bit boring and underwhelming. Nonetheless, he is the most "current" out of all these kids. I want the best singer to win though, not who is most musically "woke."

Rankings for Round Three:

5. Alejandro Aranda
4. Laci Kay Booth
3. Wade Cota
2. Laine Hardy
1. Madison VanDenburg

My only alteration was flip flipping Alejandro and Laci for the final round.

Composite rankings:

5. Laci Kay Booth
4. Alejandro Aranda
3. Wade Cota
2. Laine Hardy
1. Madison VanDenBurg

Who should have been eliminated: Laci Kay Booth and Alejandro Aranda

Now, during the final commercial, I had to officially "predict."  I was seriously a bit concerned for Madison here. After all, Jeremiah getting cut last week really surprised me, although perhaps it should not have.

Who I predicted would be eliminated: Laci Kay Booth and Wade Cota

I can confirm that my mother agreed with me both on who should be cut and who would be cut. She thought there is no way Madison would be lost this week and expressed her belief that Madison will win the show.

Who was eliminated: Laci Kay Booth and Wade Cota

Ok then, at least I called it. I think Wade had a strong night and Laci had some positives on the evening as well. I also think Alejandro has gotten a bit better the past few weeks and that Madison and Laine are consistent as it comes.

Alejandro is current and I will have no interest in anything he does after the show. I can envision Madison singing and in fact competing with Kelly Clarkson for the same kind of songs. As for Laine, the kind of music he is mostly doing on Idol may be popular with the viewers, but he is never going to put out an album of originals that sound anything like his party-time oldies vibe. So, he is either going to have to go in a more genuine direction towards the kind of music he was doing at home, or he can get an act in Vegas, just like Taylor Hicks once did. We already know Laine's flashy jacket game is strong.

Next weeks' Finale should be interesting. We will see "Homecoming Visits"  I will rank the performances when the time comes. I wish it was the traditional format though of there being just a final two, but the last few years have seen three make it to Finale night. Last year, on the first season of ABC, all three sang on Sunday, and then one was cut on Monday night about halfway through.

I am thinking is quite possible Alejandro will win now, although I will almost certainly not want him to. That is a distinct possibility though if Madison and Laine are splitting the "red states" and older voters. In some ways, it would be most similar to last year's Maddie Poppe surprise victory.

Other outcomes are possible to. Madison can win, as the last remaining girl, if the female/cougar vote is split two ways. Last year's perceived frontrunner Gabby Barrett had to share votes both with another female and another country performer.  Madison might at least have a bit of an advantage as compared to that. I expect to find that she will be the strongest vocally yet again, with Laine in second.

As of now, I think Laine is probably still slightly the most likely to win, being a guitar playing (mostly white) dude from the South. He is perhaps in the role that runner-up Caleb Lee Hutchinson was in last year, although I think more Idol female fans want to marry and/or "adopt" Laine than they felt about Caleb last year. Also, I would be shocked if we find out on the finale that Laine and Alejandro have been secretly dating for months.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Race for the White House 2020 # 19

Today, we can take a brief look at the possibility of a Trump vs. Biden general election, since it seems clear that the current President has Biden on his mind more than other potential opponents. Perhaps, he is being way too premature, but in Trump's psyche, he sees Biden's early lead in the polls as a sign of being in position to win the nomination. Trump himself ties it to what he perceives as being in the "number one" position from the time he announced, whether true or not, and being center stage at all the debates.

It is impossible to deny that in its first couple of weeks, the Biden campaign has seen him catapult to the top of polls both nationally and in early key states. Some might even theorize that Biden has the potential to cruise to the nomination. I definitely believe he will have to earn it and the path will be fraught with minefields. Biden also, perhaps reasonably, shows in most polls as the best option for his party to take on Trump. After all, Trump won in 2016 because he was able to peel off enough Obama/Biden voters believed to be "working class" in key states. Now, polls show that Biden might even have the possibility of beating Trump in Arizona, which is a state that no Democrat has won since 1996. There is also a belief now that the Trump campaign's own internal polls show Biden as their strongest potential opponent.

So, while Trump may still go after Bernie Sanders or Pete Buttigieg a bit on Twitter, he mostly been focusing on talking about Biden and retweeting negative stories about him. Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, cable news studios, and political blogs, discussion of the Mueller Report and its aftermath continue to prevail. Many on the right are very angle at North Carolina Senator Richard Burr, the GOP Chairman of the Intelligence Committee for issuing a subpoena to Donald Trump Jr. to once again testify in regards to the Trump campaign's potential ties to Russia. On the House side, Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have voted to hold William Barr in contempt of Congress. Republicans are apoplectic over that. The roles were reversed a few years back when the GOP House voted to hold then Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt. I would perhaps be one of the few Americans to think that both were possible in contempt in regards to refusing to fully cooperate with Congress.

In the past couple of days, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, whom with each passing week makes it harder to believe that once upon a time he was a unifying and popular figure throughout the country. is saying he will travel to Ukraine to find dirt on Hunter Biden, the sometimes troubled son of the former Vice President. Many allegations have been made to shady business ties between the younger Biden and the Ukrainian government and potential involvement by his father. Americans will have to determine for themselves just how seemly or unseemly it might be for political figures to rely on "dirt" from foreign governments on their opponents or opponents' families.

I cannot help but feel that Donald Trump Jr. and Hunter Biden probably have a whole lot they would not want the country knowing about the way they conduct themselves, both personally and professionally, and their fathers, with their own ambitions in mind, have acted for a long time to hope that those activities never get uncovered. The two young men are probably alike in many ways and the same might be said for their fathers. American deserves better.

Of course, there is a long time to go to determine whom the Democrats will ultimately nominate. Party demands are indicating that Biden is having to move more and more to the left such as a statement this week in which he seemed to say he believed Obamacare should be extended to illegal immigrants through "clinics" and not just emergency care.

The most recent Vice President is the front-runner for now but is incredibly prone to gaffe and confusing statements. They have defined his political career and it is hard to imagine that at age 76, Biden is going to be getting any better. The past five years have shown that Trump can get away with virtually any gaffe, mistake, or wild statement. Will the same rules apply for Biden?

Also, on the topic of Vice Presidents, the official Trump reelection signage continues to include incumbent Mike Pence on it, but is there a possibility that the Veep might be dumped for former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley? I definitely think so. Trump is not exactly known for personal loyalty and frankly the move would make sense and might appeal to some female voters. After all, where are the Evangelicals loyal to Pence going to go? They have already seemingly made their beds to lie down with Donald J. Trump.

Monday, May 06, 2019

American Idol Top 5

I have watched the Chicago Cubs sweep the St. Louis Cardinals to officially take first place on this Cinco de Mayo and now it is time to watch the DVR recording of tonight's American Idol, pausing to liveblog along the way.

I am headlining this post as Top 5, because one of the two lowest vote-getters is definitely going to be saved tonight, as that judicial tool ends on this episode. That means that we will be down to three after next week's Mother's Day edition, and then as per last season, a three-way Finale the Sunday after.

Seacrest welcomes us to "America's number one singing show." Once upon a time, Idol was the number one show period. Now, they are bragging that they are beating "The Voice" in the ratings. Most of America is probably watching "Game of Thrones" anyway but tonight's Idol is being broadcast live from "Hartford to Honolulu." That means that people in Hawai'i need to be tuned in at 2 pm. Is that really very likely?

The first round will feature a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock. How wholesome. Hopefully, all of the kids are well prepared to take on their '60s songs and will have stayed away from the Brown Acid (h/t Wavy Gravy.)

1. Madison VanDenburg- "Piece Of My Heart"

Whoa, she's out there with an electric guitar. I was not exactly expecting that. Madison always sounds like Kelly Clarkson and tonight I decided she looks like a young Chef Alex Guarnaschelli. The vocals were pretty good, though probably not her best. She may not be as natural a rocker as Allison Iraheta for instance, but was quite credible in rocking out to this Janis Joplin tune. Madison also seemed to be very conscious of moving around a lot on stage and flipping her hair around as Katy Perry asked her to do. Throughout her entire run on this show, I think it would be tough to find large groups of people who actually dislike Madison or are rooting against her. That could put her in good steed as they head down the final stretch. (Watch out for Maximum Security though!)

2. Laine Hardy- "I Don't Need No Doctor"

Horribly inappropriate joke warning..... Don't need no doctor? What if you have been "partying with a Hardy" for more than four hours?

Anyways, if Laine is singing Joe Cocker for Woodstock Week, what is Wade going to do? At least Laine did not try to sound like Cocker here and at least he did not do a performance from that '50s cover band that somehow played Woodstock. It was a very credible blues-rock performance and Laine sounded well, but it was not exactly rangy and did not offer much in the way of vocal dynamics. It looked almost too easy for him. The time will still need to come where Laine puts the guitar away and sings a ballad. Perhaps in the next round.

3. Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon- "Swing Low Sweet Chariot"

As I pause the recording, the three judges are on their feet with hands raised to the sky. I am not sure if I agree with this one. It felt like a weird song and weird arrangement. Perhaps Joan Baez got applause for this at Woodstock from a thoroughly medicated crowd but it did not have the same effect on me. Jeremiah always sings well, but he seemed a bit off kilter with the music this week. I thought it got better at the end when he got up from the piano and wailed a bit but even then his voice sounded sort of shrill and was hard to break through all the instruments playing in the background.

4. Laci Kay Booth- "To Love Somebody"

I did not know this song had a connection to Janis Joplin or Woodstock. I just know that Barry Gibb wrote it, but apparently that was back in the '60s, long before Disco. LKB might have overdone it with the hair extensions and spray-tan this week. She sort of at least facially resembles those blonds who used to live with Hugh Hefner. I hate to say that I did not really like the vocals tonight either. She definitely has her stylized way of singing that many people love, but her voice sounded extra strained tonight and I think even cracked a couple times. While she attempted to do a more mid-tempo song than she usually does, complete with her playing electric guitar, it just is not what she is best at and I think I may wind up liking all of the performances in this round gradually less as they go down the line.

Both of her parents and her stepfather are there to cheer her on. That's great, but I think her stepdad may be like 30 years older than her actual father. The judges are more critical of her than they have been previously.

5. Alejandro Aranda- "White Rabbit"

Well, this is certainly the most drug-inspired song ever to be done on American Idol and to think, two weeks ago was Disney Night on ABC. Go tell Alice indeed. At least Alejandro took a song that was most in the spirit of Woodstock and while I do not love his voice, I have to say I probably thought this was his best performance. He did not play an instrument and did not sing in a falsetto voice and seemed to actually be trying to come across powerfully via the microphone. Older viewers probably really hated this but this  homage to a festival from 50 years ago, was the kind of performance that would have had the biggest impact on all the drugged out rich kids at Coachella in 2019.

Hoping for all five of them to better in the next round, though I doubt Alejandro will be able to.

Woops, I proceeded to rank them and I totally forgot about Wade. At least that will be easy to fix.

As we return from commercial, we see that the Chucky Doll has somehow relocated to Atlanta, changed his name to Will and is now an Idol Superfan.

6. Wade Cota- "With A Little Help From My Friends"

Of course he was going to do this Joe Cocker song. How obvious was it? It's like wondering if Tatiana Del Toro would have found a way to do "Saving All My Love For You."  This was close to a full on impression of Cocker at Woodstock at first. I was really not digging it. Then Wade put some more energy into it, as always happens with all of his performances and it was at least slightly more impressive. I sort of feel like I have been over Wade and his potential for a while though now. He is what he is and there are better all-around singers in this.

The judges loved it.

Round 1 Rankings:

6. Laci Kay Booth
5. Wade Cota
4. Alejandro Aranda
3. Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon
2. Laine Hardy
1. Madison VanDenburg

How did Maddie and Caleb beat Gabby Barrett again last year? Oh, maybe she was hooking up with the older Cade Phoener. Now, they are engaged. She's still a teenager, right?

The  mentor for the next round is Lauren Daigle, whom I legitimately had never heard of before they announced her last Sunday. She is billed as an "American Idol alum" although she never got past Final Judgment. We learn she is a big Christian artist, which is ironic considering both the Woodstock round they just had and that Ms. Daigle looks and acts like some sort of New Age Priestess.

The theme is "Showstoppers."

1. Madison VanDenburg- "I Surrender"

Well, this is some chutzpah. Both taking on the Celine Dion song itself and the fact that this Kelly Clarkson American Idol 2002 to the extreme. Before I watch Madison, I am going to pause right now to actually watch Kelly do this on her season from YouTube so I can determine just how much they sound alike or not... I am not going to scroll down to the comments because there might be spoilers. I remember watching this live. If only someone back then would have told me whom the next two Presidents would wind up being...

Ok, back to the present. Maybe because Idol production values are better now, with a live band, etc, or maybe because Kelly was "hoarse" that night, but I actually think Madison just sang it better, at least for two-thirds of it. She clipped one word too fast and might have run out of a bit of steam at the end, although she did put an original vocal flourish right at the conclusion. Obviously, I continue to be impressed with her talent. I just get the impression that Madison has listened to Kelly's performance of this song at least three times a day for the last ten years just waiting for the day she got her chance to sing this on American Idol.

2. Alejandro Aranda- "Poison"

Why are they changing the performance order now after Madison went first twice? She probably should have been given the pimp slot.

This "showstopper" was an original song. I am almost certain he is the first Idol contestant to ever get to perform more than one original during competition. I would have preferred the Alice Cooper or even Bell Biv DeVoe version of "Poison" perhaps. It started off sounding nice and pleasant as far as coffee shop ditties would go but then after about thirty seconds I was ready for him to be done. The lyrics sounded kinda lame. I noticed the audience went craziest at least twice during the song when he stopped singing completely and started playing some weird acoustic guitar solos. Isn't this supposed to be a singing show?

3. Laci Kay Booth- "Open Arms"

I give her credit for choosing a really good song and one fitting for the theme. She really tried to have a "moment" with this one, and I liked the performance a whole lot better than she she did in the first round. However, she just does not have the kind of voice to pull this song off, at least in the way that Journey fans would want to hear it done. Laci, Alejandro, and Wade all just have their own specialized sound which gets boring after a while. Madison and Jeremiah have tremendous range and I think Laine has a lot more to show than has demonstrated lately too. Again, I give her a thumbs up for effort but the execution was still lacking.

Again, I hate to harp on this but I think her look tonight is way too distracting with the earrings and the eye-shadow, and the tiara, etc. Now, I am seeing her as a grown-up Jon Benet Ramsey in pageant mode and nobody really feels comfortable about that. I think it's going to cost her a lot of votes.

4. Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon- "Somewhere"

I do not have time to check out Candice Glover's Idol performance on YouTube, but I probably would have preferred that one. That is not to say that JLH did not do a stellar job on this song from "West Side Story." His vocals are beyond impressive. I think he started in too high of a key though and needed to start lower in order to climb up to the top of his range by the end. It sounded like he went down a little bit on the second verse and then was able to climb back up. He continues to be really good, but seems perhaps a very slight degree off his game tonight to me. Maybe it's just too different to hear a male voice do this song. The Idol contestant I would have really liked to hear sing this was Dimitrius Graham.

Oh wow. I had forgotten Dimitrius's name, which is horrible on it's own, and I went to look it up on Google and I just saw a pretty surprising spoiler. That's the risk I take from watching this show hours after it airs. No wonder Idol was trending on Twitter right after it ended.

5. Wade Cota- "Through The Valley"

I really regret seeing that spoiler. As for Wade, this was pretty much something right in his wheelhouse. He was able to distinguish himself using his gruff intensity. This is the kind of music I can see him making in the future, but it might have come across as too intense for some.

6. Laine Hardy- "Johnny B. Goode"

This song is about a Louisiana country boy, which is what Laine was first introduced as, but he continues to go about every performance with a retro oldies vibe complete with slick backed hair and a snazzy jacket. I continue to wish he would be be more genuine to whom he really is, but hey, he wants to be famous and he always sounds pretty good, and I think knows these kind of crowd-pleasing tv performances are going to get him a lot of votes. This was a good vocal, at least up to the point where he was almost fighting back laughter over the adulation he was getting from the studio audience and the judges. It's like his voice is in cruise control at this point and he does not have to challenge himself. Maybe that will come in the next two weeks, but he is pretty much following the strategies that Scott McCreery and Taylor Hicks used to win the show in years past. However, Taylor showed a whole lot more versatility and sang different kinds of music and even Scotty attempted to do ballads, etc.

I think he should have done "Freebird."

Round 2

6. Alejandro Aranda
5. Laci Kay Booth
4. Wade Cota
3. Laine Hardy
2. Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon
1. Madison VanDenBurg


6. Laci Kay Booth
5. Alejandro Aranda
4. Wade Cota
3. Laine Hardy
2. Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon
1. Madison VanDenburg

Well, if there are to be three in the Finale, I think it is pretty clear which three I would want to see. However, we are to lose one (or possibly two tonight) and I already know it is not to be. I will proceed with predicting as if I did not see the spoiler.

Who should receive the least votes: Laci Kay Booth and Alejandro Aranda

(I would save neither, but imagine the judges would save Alejandro in this circumstance.)

Who I would predict would receive the lowest number of votes if not for the spoiler I saw:

Laci Kay Booth and Alejandro Aranda

Besides the fact I think these two are consistently the least impressive vocalists, I think Laci had some style mishaps tonight and that Alejandro would finally run up against a demographic problem (as the African-American kids did a couple weeks ago) because too many Mexican-Americans are celebrating/sleeping off Cinco de Mayo during the voting window.

I will note that I had Laine and Jeremiah in a tie this week, but broke the tie in favor of Jeremiah.

Who received the least amount of votes:

Laci Kay Booth and Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon

The curse of the three names? Maybe they should be left to serial killers and child actors.

Ok, there's a lot to digest here. I saw the spoiler several minutes ago, but I would have been at least somewhat surprised about Jeremiah being among the two lowest vote getters. This is in spite of the fact that I thought and commented beforehand that he seemed a bit off his game tonight.

Let's face it. The demographic for Idol on ABC Sunday nights is pretty conservative. Everyone else is watching "Game of Thrones" on HBO. Jeremiah being so openly gay finally caught with him in the votes and he was not exactly charismatic or flamboyant enough to become a cause celebre for the gays to save. Plus, last week, the oft-mentioned conflict with his parents seemed to be headed towards a happy ending, so maybe people turned out of his "story" after that. Vocally though, he was definitely deserving of continuing. Even if he was a bit off tonight, he has one of the best pure voices to be on Idol ever.

It seems clear why Madison and Laine are getting votes. They are practically tailor made for television. That now seems like the "Final Two" more than ever. Before tonight, I was almost wondering if Laci and Laine would be the Final Two.

Wade, who every week is surprised to survive, is doing so, frankly because there are a lot of fat white people in America who want to see him succeed on this show.

The Blue States seem all in for Alejandro apparently. He keeps making it despite being incredibly polarizing for Middle America. Maybe they think his being Hispanic would piss Trump off more than Jeremiah being gay. They are probably right on that. Alejandro's liberal voting bloc cost Jeremiah. When I really think about it though, as "shocking" as it is to lose Jeremiah tonight, he would have done no better than third place overall.

Also, it has to be recognized that with just a two hour voting window coast to coast, the left-leaning states of the West Coast, especially massively populated California (where in regular elections, the votes for Democrats seem to trickle in up to weeks later) are at a disadvantage. Watching a show and voting between 5-7 pm is not Prime Time television for them, and this system of "vote only during the show" is causing some really wacky results.

It seems clear that Idol will be back next year, which is great, but ABC really needs to fix this voting system. They have to allow post-show voting as had always been the case and then either give the results next week or find a way to carve out even a half-hour sometime during the week for a "Results Show." After all, this is the "top rated singing show in America" and "The Voice" which it is beating in the rankings is on at least twice a week.

Now, with Laci and Jeremiah both at the bottom, I would have expected the judges to save Jeremiah. Apparently, they did not though, and I about to watch to see what happened.

As the show runs out of time, Katy announces they will save Laci. The saved contestant looks shocked and horrified. At least she has a conscience. Poor girl. She knows Jeremiah is the better singer. Yesterday's "winner", ironically named Country House, of the Kentucky Derby might feel the same way, if it were a human.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Race for the White House 2020 # 18

Politics and horse racing. So many parallels to think about on this Kentucky Derby Day. A short while ago, 19 horses "ran for the roses" while no fewer than 24 Democrats are attempting to run for a nomination which may put them in near proximity to a Rose Garden.

Something happened today at the Derby that had not happened in 144 previous runs. The "winner" was disqualified on the track and long-shot was awarded the victory after a lengthy review. Controversy and disbelief abounded. Apparently, Maximum Security obstructed another horse and the chief steward at Churchill Downs was more willing to rule on obstruction than Robert Mueller was. So, candidates running for President, be careful how you jockey for position.

As mentioned, the Democrat field grows to almost comical proportions. We could very well see back to back nights of debates with 12 candidates on the stage each night. Of course, all of them have to take steps to qualify. Just when it seemed like Joe Biden might be the final "major name" to get in the race, Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, shortly after facing a bout with prostate cancer jumped in. Montana Governor Steve Bullock has also apparently figured he has nothing to lose and is organizing the launch of his campaign. Just yesterday, many were surprised that New York Mayor Bill deBlasio is said to be jumping in as well. The office he holds has certainly not been a launching pad for others who have tried, but at least deBlasio can claim to possibly be the tallest person in the race. The Italian-German-American is also the most major candidate to be married to an African-American spouse (Wayne Messam, the Mayor of Miramar, Florida is as well). The two most widely known black candidates seeking the nomination are married to a white man in the case of Kamala Harris or dating a Latin-American actress as Cory Booker has confirmed he is with Rosario Dawson.

The reality for this historically large field of Democrats is that Joe Biden has gotten a significant bounce from his announcement and has an extremely impressive lead in some polls. Will that last? Probably not. Biden is already making some major gaffes on the campaign trail such as saying that China is not a competitor for the U.S. Right now though, Biden has been the man of the month for sure, as a sort of comfort food for Democrats who feel like they know him and trust him. Bernie Sanders is also considered a major contender, although there is some buzz that after some pretty poor optics for her campaign, Elizabeth Warren has been working hard behind the scenes in Iowa. One can envision a dogged John Kerry like beyond the radar campaign that could benefit her in the long run. There is of course also the Pete Buttigieg bubble which may not have gone away and the Beto O'Rourke competition that is going on as the two compete for voters, donors, and attention. Former Congressman Barney Frank joked (I think this week), that Beto might regret not being gay. Nonetheless, a CNN poll out this week showed that among all tested Democrats, it is the Texan O'Rourke who runs the best against Donald Trump, leading him by double digits. Many in both parties are skeptical, but I can sort of buy it considering the duality of the facts that O'Rourke is better known in Texas than many other candidates and elsewhere is enough of a "blank slate" to not have turned enough voters off yet.

Out of the two dozen Democrats running for President, I think Governor Bullock might actually be their strongest general election candidate. Otherwise, maybe someone like former Congressman John Delaney. However, they are likely far too "centrist" to even have a whiff of a chance. I will also maintain that Oprah Winfrey would be a stronger general election candidate than any in the field. Speculation also abounds that the Democrat family fight will turn into such a bloodbath, that ultimately, the party will turn at the convention to... Michelle Obama. Yeah, I do not see that happening.

The Democrats' nomination is worth having but the eventual winner of that prize will have the weight of the world on his or her shoulders as it turns to the demands held by many in the country that Donald Trump might be defeated. For all the political/news junkie focus on the continued issue of the Mueller Report and possible perjury by Trump's Attorney General and who will testify before Congress and when, as well as all the embarrassing tidbits about Trump's leadership style especially as it relates to foreign policy, it is also true that headlines about the U.S. economy are pretty stellar recently for Trump. Unemployment is the lowest in 50 years. As a conservative, do I believe that left-wing policies would have the economy in worse shape now? Absolutely. Does Trump deserve all the credit though? I remember when people of my ideological persuasion were of the mindset that it was the private sector that created jobs, not the government.

Eight years ago, Barack Obama ran for reelection with people very anxious about his economic policies but liking him personally. He was able to eventually win a competitive reelection. This cycle, an incumbent runs with the exact opposite of situations. Whether it is easy to admit it or not, people tend to like the "Trump economy" while disliking the man in the Oval Office.  Which factor will matter more next November? Of course, we do not know exactly what the state of the economy will be then.

So, as 24 "major" Democrats and as of this moment, Donald Trump and Bill Weld on the GOP side all seek to take part in the general election, I state what I have before that many partisans of both parties need to stop being so very cocky about their chances for victory. Both parties and both likely nominees have what could very well be fatal political flaws.

I suppose along those lines, I should mention that late this morning, I received a call from a woman working conducting a poll and I patiently answered all the questions for about 15 minutes. I stated I considered myself a conservative Republican and when asked answered that I was not very proud of my party these days and that I would welcome a "centrist" option for the general election. Much of the rest of it dealt with the "Green New Deal" which I expressed my thorough opposition to and then some proposal for a market-based carbon reduction plan of some sort that I did not know how to answer on.  I do not know for certain, but I highly suspect this poll was being paid for by Howard Schultz.

Monday, April 29, 2019

American Idol Top 6

Another Sunday night and the realization that this season of American Idol will actually be over pretty soon. I will once again be watching a DVR recording, and live-blogging along the way.

Tonight was Queen Night, with their front-man, and American Idol alum Adam Lambert mentoring the contestants. This is not the first time the 2009 runner-up has acted in this role and I believe he is the only non-winner among Idol alums ever to do this. I think he will be do pretty well as mentor. Whether one thought he was the greatest singer in the world or massively overrated, his performances on the show were always worth talking about. There should be some good music tonight, however, "Queen Night" is probably not as exciting as it was back in Season Five. After all, just about all Idol fans have seen "Bohemian Rhapsody." These songs are all pretty much known and I think there may be some predictable choices for the contestants tonight.

The kids tonight will sing a Queen song and then apparently be paired up for a "movie duet." Two people will be eliminated, unless the judges save someone.

The night begins right off the bat with all eight on stage singing in unison, "We will, we will rock you. We will we will rock you." Since that's all they sing, I thankfully will not have to judge or rank anything there.

1. Walker Burroughs- "Crazy Little Thing Called Love"

After this was over, it occurred to me that Walker would have been perfect for the show "Glee." This was an interesting but cheesy performance with a decent vocal. It just feels like this song has been done so  many times on Idol and it's pretty much just a novelty act at this time. I think Walker did a good job of interacting with the audience and infusing a couple interesting vocal runs along the way. It just had a made for tv musical theater vibe to it. It also still feels like Walker is playing a tv character. He could be hosting "Blue's Clues." There must not have been a lot of scandalous behavior at the Belmont University dorm where he was an R.A.

2. Madison VanDenburg- "The Show Must Go On"

I could have predicted she would do this song. Madison definitely has the pipes to try to pull this one off and for the most part, I think she did. For some reason, it just seemed like she was a tad off, but maybe nobody else even got that impression. I also cannot help but hear Kelly Clarkson's voice every time Madison sings. I still cannot decide if that is a great thing or an unfortunate one for Madison. As high I would rank this performance, I think it might be a little behind in emotion to the version done back in Season 5 by Paris Bennett.

3. Laci Kay Booth and Laine Hardy- "Jackson"

Ok, so we get a duet in between the Queen songs. As I always have, I will judge the first"round" based on the first time everyone sings thru. I think that might put the duet performances a little bit behind. They always seem to be a little haphazard and under prepared. This was a song from "Walk the Line" that felt a little pointless. Laine was trying to sound like Johnny Cash on the first verse but then settled into his own style as the song continued. Laci was even more difficult to understand over the loudness of the band on this fast number and I think might have missed an entrance at one point.

4. Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon- "Who Wants To Live Forever"

I had forgotten that the second to last person to be crowned "American Idol" had the last name Harmon. I do not think I have heard anything of his career since. Once again, I could have predicted this as the Queen song Jeremiah would attempt and it was really good as I would have expected. Adam Lambert talked JLH out of playing guitar for the first time on the show and that was probably good advice. This rendition started off sort of understated but then built in intensity and the ability of Jeremiah to hit high notes and make it look easy is pretty remarkable. His ginger parents are in the audience, beaming with pride. I thought Idol would have saved that for the Finale and added more hype to it.

5. Alejandro Aranda- "Under Pressure"

It was much harder to predict which Queen song he would attempt. As usual with his performances, my feelings were mixed. There were parts of it that were interesting but also some missed opportunities. For one thing, he looked really nervous, perhaps afraid of messing up the lyrics. It might have been better had he just done this as a stripped down acoustic guitar version, but for some reason, he has like EDM beats now added to all of his performances. At times, he was trying to sing both high like Freddie Mercury and then low like David Bowie and then he skipped out on the "let me out" high note, leaving that up to the backup singers. It all felt a bit disjonted.

6. Alyssa Raghu and Wade Cota- "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"

For a movie duet, you would think they would have given Wade Joe Cocker's part of "Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong" but this Motown classic worked out pretty well for both singers. Wade was able to keep his gravelly voice somewhat in check in order to not be distracting from his duet partner. At times, it felt like Alyssa was leading the performance with her smooth vocals.

Ranking from worst to best:

8. Laci Kay Booth
7. Alejandro Aranda
6. Laine Hardy
5. Wade Cota
4. Walker Burroughs
3. Alyssa Raghu
2. Madison VanDenburg
1. Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon

1. Madison VanDenBurg and Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon- "A Million Dreams"

Whom I consider to be the two most consistent voices in this competition team up to sing a song from "The Greatest Showman." I do not know the song, but that may be why I found this duet so successful. There is really not much else to be said. Both of these performers can belt and they sounded great together. This was something that could have been from the movie itself instead of a cover version. Madison was especially powerful. Both contestants are more than ready to make an album, even if they were to somehow get cut tonight... which I doubt will happen.

2. Laine Hardy- "Fat Bottomed Girls"

It was quite obvious that this is the Queen song he would do. There continues to be an issue for me with the songs Laine is picking. This is the most pointless of all Queen songs and I think Laine's voice is a lot better than this. Once Jack Black has done this on the Idol stage, it is dumb for it to be attempted again in the competition. It has no musical relevance to anything anyone will sing after the show. Sure, he sounded decent but there was too much emphasis on him moving around on stage and acting like a "rock star." He had his guitar strapped to his back and only played a solo at the end. We know he can do jams like this. If he wants to be deserving of winning the show, he needs to put the guitar down and sing something vulnerable. The most well-known Queen ballads were already taken, but I suppose he could have done "We Are The Champions" or "Love Of My Life."

3. Laci Kay Booth- "Love Of My Life"

Well, this was another one that I suppose was already taken that Laine did not get a chance to sing. I think Laci made the most out of it and this might have been her best performance. While Laine is relying too heavily on his "Party with a Hardy" lane (so to speak), Laci is singing too many ballads. This one I thought was more effective for her although her voice is so stylized that if you are not a huge fan you may never truly be that impressed with it.

4. Alejandro Aranda and Walker Burroughs- "Mrs. Robinson"

There is an uneven number of males left this season, so these two dudes are combined for an ode to cougars, Idol's chief voting bloc. We are never told how these duets are chosen. It was alluded to by Bobby Bones however, that this arrangement was Alejandro's. I can believe it because it was kind of sleepy. Both singers are practically singing via whisper the entire time. It was not a trainwreck or anything, but hardly a vehicle to show off their voices.

5. Wade Cota- "We Are The Champions"

I am still trying to think now what other song Laine could have done. In any event, this was an interesting selection for Wade. The first few notes sounded very rough to me. There is a thin line between sounding like Joe Cocker and sounding like Larry Flynt for Wade. Then, Wade eased into it a bit more and it felt heartfelt and powerful. However, I did detect what seemed like a serious lyric slip up towards the end and the panic on Wade's face was evident. He then recovered from that for a pretty effective closing. This was like a roller coast ride of vocal ups and downs.

6. Alyssa Raghu- "Somebody To Love"

Finishing off the night was Alyssa who continues to impress me with her vocals each week. I wonder though if her very confident attitude comes across as off-putting to others. In any event, I thought she sang this soulful tune very well. It was a very strong night for her, but will it be enough? Being half Mexican-American and half Indian-American, she is the one of the two true racial minorities left this season (people probably do not even associate Laine with being half Asian-American). Considering past voting trends, Ms. Raghu better think that the Idol viewership thinks her sauce is Italian-American.

Round Two Rankings:

8. Alejandro Aranda
7. Walker Burroughs
6. Laine Hardy
5. Laci Kay Booth
4. Wade Cota
3. Alyssa Raghu
2. Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon
1. Madison VanDenBurg

Cumulative with  tie-breakers

8.  Alejandro Aranda
7.  Laci Kay Booth
6.  Laine Hardy
5.  Walker Burroughs
4.  Wade Cota
3.  Alyssa Raghu
2.  Madison VanDenburg
1.  Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon

We certainly heard almost all of Queen's biggest hits tonight, between the 8 solos, the "We Will Rock You" intro and the piano prodigy doing "Bohemian Rhapsody." However, Queen Night will be a "killer" for two contestants who will receive the least amount of votes and run the risk of "biting the dust."

As for tonight, I have it as a virtual tie between Madison and Jeremiah. They deserve to be in the Finale as far as I am concerned. However, I think Laine is still the most likely to actually win. He may be very deserving of that as he has a great voice and comes across very well on television. I just want him to pick better songs and be more genuine musically instead of just trying to do what he thinks will appeal most to casual viewers.

Who should be eliminated: Alejandro Aranda and Laci Kay Booth

While I give props to Laci for her Queen solo tonight, I do definitely consider the other six voices to be superior to theirs. If either of them are in the bottom two, the judges might save them. They would go nuts if they could only save one.

Who I predict will receive the least amount of votes: Alejandro Aranda and Alyssa Raghu

This is really tough to predict now that the African-American singers are gone. I have to go with the two least white contenders. Otherwise, might be it Wade? A surprise anti-gay vote against Jeremiah? Anything other than that might really surprise me. I think it is very possible we see somebody being saved tonight.

Alyssa after her performance is filibustering and stalling for time so more people can vote. Shrewd. One of the 21 Democrats running for President ought to hire her if she is cut tonight.

Who received the least amount of votes: Alyssa Raghu and Walker Burroughs

I pause the recording now to reflect. I guess for Walker a split ginger vote was not enough to overcome. Will the judges use the save on either of them? Perhaps not, after Alyssa got some semi-critical comments from the judges. Wade looks shocked to be safe. Either he is acting or he wanted to be relieved from the competition at this point.

Obviously, both Alejandro and Laci have fan-bases that are keeping them around.

Nobody gets saved. I can almost assure it will be used next week to save either Alejandro, Laci, or Wade... or for that matter, Jeremiah, Madison, or Laine.